Washington (AP) - Senate Democrats are counting on their soon-to-expire 60-vote majority to raise the federal debt ceiling by $1.9 trillion so they don't have to take more politically painful votes on government borrowing until after the fall midterm elections.
They have no room for error. In the face of monolithic Republican opposition, they'll need all 60 votes Thursday to let the government continue borrowing almost 40 percent of what it spends.
The legislation would put the government on track for a national debt of $14.3 trillion -- equal to about $45,000 for every American -- and provide a vivid reminder of the United States' dire fiscal straits. New estimates released by the Congressional Budget Office on Tuesday show that the U.S. this year could run a deficit matching last year's record $1.4 trillion shortfall.
To make raising the debt ceiling easier for moderates and politically endangered Democrats to swallow amid a populist uprising against government borrowing and spending, President Barack Obama promised in his State of the Union address Wednesday night to appoint a bipartisan task force to come up with a plan for dealing with the spiraling debt...